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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

What Is Medicare?


All adults over 65 and those with impairments or kidney failure are eligible for Medicare coverage under the federal government’s health insurance program. All medical expenses are not covered by Original Medicare. Original Medicare can be replaced with a Medicare Advantage plan, or you can stick with it and buy a Medicare Supplement coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • There are four distinct parts to Medicare. Medicare Advantage (sometimes known as “Medigap”) and prescription medication coverage are two of the three parts of Original Medicare.
  • You are eligible for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) when you reach the age of 65. Everything is not covered by the original Medicare program. Routine prescription medicines, dental and optical care, and hearing aids are among the treatments that are not covered.
  • Before Medicare covering its half of the cost of your medical care, you will typically be required to pay a deductible. Coinsurance or copayments for covered services and materials are then paid by Medicare.
  • During certain enrollment times, you can purchase additional Medicare coverage. Original Medicare does not cover the additional costs of health care under these programs. Medigap insurance (Medigap) and Part D prescription drug coverage are among the options available to Medicare beneficiaries in each state.

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Medicare Explained

In terms of health insurance for the elderly, Medicare is by far the most common. After retiring from employment, elderly Americans can rely on the program to take care of their medical requirements.

In 1965, the Medicare program was first established. Original Medicare, as it is now called, was founded at that time. Seven years later, those with impairments or end-stage renal illness became eligible for coverage through the program’s first major expansion.

The Medicare+Choice program was first launched in 1997 and renamed Part C. Several years later, in 2003, it was called Medicare Advantage. Beginning in 2006, Part D was implemented.

When Medicare was established, the Medicaid program also began. Since its inception, Medicaid has evolved beyond its basic purpose of providing health insurance to individuals who were unable to afford it on their own. The program, which is independent of Medicare, was established to help low-income Americans access health care.

Among the most basic aspects of Medicare are the federally sponsored programs as well as the commercial insurance options. Different aspects of your health care may be covered by different types of policies.

Understanding Medicare Coverage Plans

Parts A through D of Medicare is called alphabetically, starting with Part A.

It is common to refer to Original Medicare as Parts A and B. Newer parts C and D are available. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may be able to receive coverage through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you wish to join a Medicare Advantage plan, you must live in the service region of that plan.

Original Medicare

The federal government provides the original Medicare program, which is called Medicare Part A. By the time they age 65, most Americans are eligible to join Original Medicare. Various aspects of your health care are addressed by each of the two sections, A and B, respectively.

Original Medicare does not cover everything, with noteworthy exceptions such as vision and dental coverage.

Medicare Part A

Hospital insurance is covered through Medicare Part A. Long-term care is not covered, only short-term hospitalization and rehabilitation.

What does Medicare Part A cover?

  • Inpatient care in a hospital
  • Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Home health care
  • Hospice care

If you are hospitalized, Part A does not cover the costs of your medical care. Part B covers that.

Medicare Part B

A doctor’s visit is covered under Medicare Part B. In addition, CMS-defined medically required and preventative care are covered.

  • If you require diagnostic or therapeutic supplies, tests, or other services, they fall under the category of medically essential services.
  • Early detection and treatment of disease necessitate the use of preventative services.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)

Private insurance under the Medicare program is known as Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage. Participation in Part C is entirely up to the individual.

Insurance companies that have contracts with the federal government sell these policies. Some of the benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans may differ from those offered by Medicare Part A and Part B.

Prescription drug coverage is included in the majority of Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans may also include additional benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental care in addition to those provided by Original Medicare.

What Can Medicare Advantage Include?

  • Vision Coverage
  • Dental Coverage
  • Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Other Additional Benefits

A person’s specific benefits and coverage may differ depending on where they live and the Medicare Advantage plans available in their area.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drugs)

Prescription medications are covered by Medicare Part D, which is provided by private insurance. Part D enrollees are required to pay a recurring monthly fee. Prescription medications purchased from a neighborhood or mail-order pharmacy is covered under this plan.

More than a dozen private insurers are available in nearly every state for Part D coverage. Prescription drug coverage is frequently available through a Medicare Advantage plan, which combines Medicare Parts C and D.

With Original Medicare, you can also buy a stand-alone prescription plan. Different Part D plans have different formularies, therefore the drugs they cover may differ.

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)

A Medicare Supplement plan, or Medigap, is a supplement to Original Medicare that provides additional coverage.

Only 80% of services are covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. Adding a Medigap plan eliminates coinsurance or copayments and some other out-of-pocket expenditures by covering the remaining 20%.

What Medigap Can Cover

  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments
  • Deductibles

Private insurance companies sell these products. Supplemental insurance cannot be purchased in conjunction with Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare is the only thing that Medigap is supposed to supplement.

Comparing Medicare Plans

Make sure you know and compare all of your alternatives while looking for a Medicare plan. To help you narrow down your options, it’s important to know the distinctions between each plan.

Types of Medicare Coverage

  • Original Medicare
  • Medigap
  • Medicare Advantage
  • Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

In the process of evaluating plans, it is important to know how much money you can or are willing to pay on medical insurance. You can use this to limit your initial possibilities.

If you have a list of conditions or services that are essential to you, incorporate them into your plan. You may want to consider Medicare Advantage if you don’t have enough coverage under Original Medicare to meet your needs.

If you decide to go with Medicare Advantage, you’ll also have to think about where you live. It is possible to find regional variations of these blueprints, which may differ from city to city. If you reside in a densely populated location, you are more likely to have options.

The star rating system for Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans is based on what they offer and how well they perform. Take star ratings into consideration while deciding on a plan.

How to Choose a Medicare Plan

  • Calculate your health care budget.
  • Identify your top priorities in terms of treatments, services, and/or coverage.
  • Look into Original Medicare and Medigap coverage. “
  • Your best bet is to check out the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs in your area.
  • Compare the plan’s scorecard.

During the annual open enrollment period, it’s also critical to keep comparing plans. Every year, new and better options for insurance coverage become available in your area.

Medicare Enrollment and Eligibility

Medicare Parts A and B are only available to those who meet the eligibility requirements. In some cases, they may be able to obtain it by paying a fee.

Requirements to qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A at age 65 or older:

  • You or your spouse worked for a government agency that was covered by Medicare.
  • To be eligible for Social Security and Medicare, either you or your spouse must have worked for at least ten years.
  • You are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments as a retiree. Your Social Security or railroad benefits may be due to you, but you’ve failed to register a claim for them.

As a 65-year-old American citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may be able to purchase Medicare Part A coverage if your spouse did not pay Medicare taxes while working in the United States.

If you’re under 65 and on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant, you may also be eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A. Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) patients under the age of 65 qualify for disability benefits within the first month of receiving them.

Find out if you are eligible for Medicare and how much your expected premium would cost with the Eligibility Tool.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the United States

It’s not necessary to sign up for Original Medicare if you’re currently receiving Social Security benefits, as you will be automatically enrolled when you turn 65.

Three Ways to Enroll in Medicare

  • Social Security’s internet site According to the Social Security Administration, the process takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a free phone call to 1-800-772-1213. TTY 1-800-325-0778 is available for those who are deaf or partially deaf.
  • In-person at your local Social Security office, but an appointment must be made ahead of time by calling.

There are a few months before and after your 65th birthday that are ideal for signing up. If you miss this deadline, you could face long-term financial consequences.

Even if you don’t know when you’ll be eligible for Medicare, you can join or change your plan at any time.

Medicare Enrollment Periods

The “Initial Medicare Enrollment Period” is defined as the three months immediately before and following your 65th birthday.
The General Medicare Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 through March 31, can be used if you missed your first enrollment window.
Special enrollment periods are only offered when a person moves or loses their health insurance due to an unexpected incident.

Medicare Cost and Coverage

With Medicare, there are fees and expenditures to consider. These include deductibles, coinsurance, and premiums. If you wait too long to sign up for Medicare Part B, you may be subject to fines.

Medicare Part A is free for the vast majority of people since they have already paid for it through payroll taxes throughout their working lives.

Definitions to Know

The amount you pay each month to maintain your insurance coverage.
Before Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, or your Medicare Advantage plan begins to pay for medical treatment or medicines, you must pay the deductible.
In some health insurance plans, you may be asked to pay a portion of the bill after you’ve paid your deductible for medical services you receive. In most cases, it is calculated as a percentage of the total cost.
Additional days are covered by Medicare if you’re in the hospital for more than 90 days total. For the rest of your life, you’ll get access to all 60 of these. For each of these days, Medicare will cover all of your medical expenses, except coinsurance.

Several factors influence Medicare premiums, which are changed each year. Changes to Medicare are heavily influenced by political and economic reasons.

Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket expenses are likely to grow in 2022 and beyond as federal health care costs continue to rise.

Out-of-Pocket Medicare Costs in 2022

Part A Premium
  • Most consumers are not willing to pay a premium for their services.
  • If you purchase Part A coverage, you can pay up to $499/month (in 2022)
  • $499 a month if you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters of the year (7.5 years)
  • After working and paying Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, you would pay $274/month (7.5 to 9.75 years)
Part A Hospital Inpatient Deductible and Coinsurance
  • Deductible: $1,556 per year
  • 60 days of free coinsurance if you’re admitted to the hospital
  • Day 61 to day 90 of your hospital stay: $389 coinsurance
  • Each lifetime-reserve day after day 90 in the hospital comes with a $778 coinsurance charge.
  • All expenses incurred after the expiration of the lifetime reservation period (you have 60)
Part B Premium
  • $170.10 – It might be more if you earn more.
Part B Deductible and Coinsurance
  • A deductible of $233
  • A 20 percent share of all expenditures after your deductible has been paid.
Part C Premium
  • By plan, monthly premiums differ.
Part D Premium
  • By plan, monthly rates differ.
  • Insurance premiums are more expensive for those with more money.

What Medicare Does Not Cover

Everything is not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. Depending on the Medicare Advantage plan, additional benefits may be available that Original Medicare does not.

Services and Items Not Covered by Medicare Parts A and B

  • Long-term (custodial) care
  • Most Dental Care
  • Dentures
  • Routine eye exams for prescription lenses
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Hearing aids and hearing aid exams
  • Routine foot care
  • Acupuncture

Long-term care is the most expensive thing that Medicare Parts A and B do not cover. If you’re a low-income American who doesn’t have a lot of money saved up, Medicaid may be able to help you out.

Medicare-Covered Services

Indeed, Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover everything, but they do cover many services. Each section will focus on a distinct service.

Part A-Covered Services

  • Hospital Stays
  • Skilled Nursing Facility Stays
  • Hospice Care

Part A can handle most of your lodging-related services. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Original Medicare does not cover long-term care or a long-term nursing home placement.

Check-ups and equipment are covered by Part B, which also includes preventative care.

Part B-Covered Services

  • Doctor Visits
  • Durable Medical Equipment
  • Ambulance Services
  • Diagnostic Tests

These services that are not covered by Original Medicare may be included in some Medicare Advantage plans.

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Medical Treatments Covered Under Medicare

A wide variety of medical procedures are covered by the original Medicare program. Much of Medicare’s coverage is based on the guiding premise that a therapy determined to be medically necessary should be reimbursed for.

It’s not always clear what qualifies as “medically necessary,” but in many cases, Parts A and B of Medicare will cover the costs.

Examples of Conditions and Treatments Covered Under Medicare

  • ALS
  • Chemotherapy
  • COPD Treatment
  • End-Stage Renal Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Hip and Knee Replacements
  • Medically Necessary Surgery

Many treatments for a variety of diseases can be covered by Parts A and B if they are deemed medically essential. Be aware that just a portion of the cost of treatment is usually covered by Medicare. Depending on the sort of care you are receiving, you may still be responsible for a substantial portion of the bill.

The diagnosis of various conditions may be covered by Original Medicare, but not the treatment of those conditions. As an example, if you have osteoporosis, a bone density test would be reimbursed, but the drugs to treat it would only be covered if you also had a Part D plan in place.

Customer Service for Medicare

If you have concerns or questions regarding your Medicare plan, you may reach out to Medicare Customer Service in several ways.

You can reach Medicare at any time of day or night by dialing 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). By mail or email, you can also get in touch with Medicare if you have a question. Prepare your Medicare card and a way to record the information you get before you call.

You can contact Medicare by phone to get answers to a variety of questions, such as about costs and bills, coverage, or medical records.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare

How do I get a Medicare card?

Automatic enrollment means you will receive your card three months before your 65th birthday or 25th month of disability benefits, whichever comes first. A card will be mailed to your address if you enroll online, via phone, or at a local Social Security office.

Does Medicare cover dental and vision?

Dental and vision coverage are not included in the original Medicare, Parts A, and B. A Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, on the other hand, might include them. Before purchasing a Part C plan, you should inquire what the coverage it provides.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. In the United States, Medicare is a health insurance program for the elderly and disabled who are 65 or older. As part of the Medicaid program, low-income individuals are eligible for health insurance coverage.

More to explorer

Medicare Part B Premiums for 2022

Medicare Part B Premiums for 2022

Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have revealed that in 2022 the usual monthly Part B premium would be $170.10, an increase of

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